URBAN LANDSCAPE BROOKLYN 2008-PRESENT

The images from the series “Urban Landscapes” are part of an ongoing project which involves photographing Brooklyn’s changing landscape. The project’s inspiration arose while both living in, and walking along Brooklyn’s streets. Since moving to Brooklyn I’ve been drawn to the buildings, people and sky. My overall goal was to seek out and capture locations where the buildings, people and sky balanced and harmonized.

Around this time, a second source of inspiration came about while walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Impressionist section. After that visit I began researching the popular painters from the Impressionist movement, and I found my eye most drawn to the painter Alfred Sisley. I love the way he composed the images’ structure, chose the subject matter, and captured the atmosphere of the location. Sisley painted images which balanced these three variables, in turn creating a document that is not only pleasing to look at from a superficial viewpoint but one that for those who choose to look further, encoded within is a great depth of information about the world. 

I love observing the subtle way light and atmosphere can transform the landscape and in the process, revealing a beauty that might otherwise be overlooked. My eye is often attracted to sharp graphic structures and lines. Once the initial form registers in my mind, I look at how its shape and structure is described by the sun, and how the individual elements of the image work as a whole. From there, I look further for elements of ordered chaos. I observe how they influence and interact with the composition, and how they can provide added depth and balance. The chaotic elements of the image are things like atmospheric conditions and people. Atmospheric conditions can help provide compositional balance, while people going about living their lives can further establish an overall tone, scale and compositional points of interest. I like to think of the process as setting traps. Once the camera is in place and the image composed, the trap is set for the chaotic elements of the image to arise.

Robert Massman